Air Algerie flight MH5017 is confirmed to have crashed over Northern Mali while travelling from Ougadougou, Burkina Faso, to Algiers, Algeria, presumably killing all 110 passengers and 6 crew members on board the flight on Thursday, according to Algerian aviation officials.
According to the Algerian officials, the two pilots had requested an urgent change of route during the flight, due to a storm in the area. The aircraft disappeared from radar and ceased communications with ground control after heavy rains were reported in the area which the aircraft was travelling.
Thus far, no evidence of the plane has come to light, but a search effort is currently in progress, with two French Mirage fighter jets scouring the area where the plane is suspected to have crashed, somewhere along its probable flight path.
Air Algerie reportedly lost all communication with the plane just short of an hour after take-off from Burkina Faso, at around 13:55 (GMT), according to Algerian news service APS.
According to the reported list of passengers, there were 51 French citizens on board, 8 Lebanese nationals, 27 Burkina Faso residents, 6 Algerians, 5 Canadians, 4 Germans, 2 Luxembourg citizens, one Swiss, on Egyptian, one Nigerian, one Ukranian, one Belgian, one Malian and one Cameroonian, according to Burkina Faso transport minister.
All six of the crew members were Spanish, as the plane, an MD-83, was owned by the Spanish aviation company, Swiftair.
The plane had also just passed an inspection, which determined that the plane was in good operating condition. According to Patrick Gandil, head of the French Civil Aviation Authority, the aircraft, “Passed through France in Marseille two or three days ago. We examined it and found almost nothing. The plane was in really good condition.”
The Northern area of Mali, where the plane is suspected to have gone down, is still experiencing civil unrest, and has been controlled by separatists since 2012. Following a military coup, the area has since been controlled by Toureg separatists and al Qaeda associated fighters. Subsequently, France sent in fighters who managed to disperse the al Qaeda groups, but the region has since been re-occupied by Toureg militants.
The area is also said to have been experiencing powerful sandstorms over recent days.